Being in church community, and especially in leadership, has allowed my family to be part of people’s significant moments. Some of them turn out to be rather pivotal. One such day turned out to be pivotal for me, powerfully showing me what David meant when he penned “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” in the Psalms. This particular day involved a funeral and a wedding. That morning, I walked through the line at a funeral home to hug and pray with a newly widowed woman. She and her husband had been married over thirty years. He has been out shoveling snow for her, when he had a heart attack. She stood by the casket , close to her love, and would not leave it. She kept looking longingly at him with a deep ache, and love in her eyes. It was the first time, I totally understood why someone would want an open casket. You could tell she was just trying to soak him in before he was completely gone from his earthly existence.
Later that same day, we had a wedding to attend of two lovely, young people, that we’d had the privilege of watching, as their new love blossomed. They were at the very beginning of the vows as we traditionally know them. They were just uttering the “in sickness and in health”, “for rich or poor”, and lastly and most powerfully for me this day, “til death do we part”. That part, right there, was so vivid. I just stood a few hours before with someone who had completed her vows. She had been faithful until death, and even in his death you could see that her love and commitment were there. She did not want to walk away from what she had committed to over thirty years before. And here was this young couple just starting out, having no idea what their in between the “I do” and “til death do us part” would look like. They had no idea how long they were committing to. It could be super short, or much longer, but I have a feeling that for both that new widow, and this young couple, would have said it would not be long enough.
The rest of the day and for quite some time later, I thought about that day. It was a day of extremes, endings and beginnings, mourning and celebrating. So much of life is spent in either one of these places. The Bible says, “it is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” (Ecc 7:2) This day reminded me of the brevity of life. It made me hug my family and friends a little tighter, and to laugh quicker, and cry easier. I wish I could say that this lesson completely helped me to become a wise woman who took stock in the shortness of life and live it to the full. It definitely made me intentional, and the lessons there took root. For a bit it impacted my days and choices, and then as days do, they turn into the next and the stream of time carries you further from that moment that was so real and you promised you would never forget, and yes I have never forgotten, but many times I forget to remember. May we remember that we are not promised any number of days and neither are the people in our life. This is the one day to number with gratitude and love, to spread kindness, and be quick to forgive. May we take notice and remember to love well, so that we may live our days well.